Building your photography business around products

Why is it that most photographers hang up their digital shingle and immediately start selling ONLY digital files?  Because it’s easy.  However, I challenge you to consider if it is the best strategy for creating a sustainable and profitable business.  If you are about to say, “but I’m only doing this part-time”….drop everything and read […]

Written By Nicole Begley

On March 22, 2017

Why is it that most photographers hang up their digital shingle and immediately start selling ONLY digital files? 

Because it’s easy.  However, I challenge you to consider if it is the best strategy for creating a sustainable and profitable business. 

If you are about to say, “but I’m only doing this part-time”….drop everything and read the myth of the part-time photographer. 

Running a pet photography business has three main goals:

  1. To knock our clients socks off
  2. To create work we are proud of
  3. To make cold hard cash

The making cold hard cash is much more challenging when you are dealing only in digital files.  Even if your images are the best in your region, digital files turn your work into a commodity.  It is hard for a potential client to choose to pay 10x as much as the shoot and burner down the street, for what THEY consider the same product.

However, when you are creating beautiful tangible products, this builds value.  This allows you to charge a premium for your work.  This also leaves the door open for you to add digital files onto your sale, having your cake and eating it too!  

To see my favorite vendors, click here!

The challenge for a photographer that is just starting out is the jump to selling products can be incredibly overwhelming!  Well, I’m here to do what I do best….break it down into a few actionable steps for you.

Don’t feel that you need to offer everything under the sun. 

Only sell what you LOVE.  It is our job to narrow the selection down, as if you overwhelm your client they will choose nothing.  Instead of asking clients which finish they prefer for their prints, you choose what you love best. 

My prints are all mounted on styrene, with a UV protective finish, and a linen texture.  No options. Now if someone has a specific request, I can do that for them.  However, I'm not going to lay out all of the options for my clients.

Purchase samples one at a time.

Purchasing a bunch of samples can also be expensive, but they are critical for selling what you want to be selling!  An easy way to add to your sample arsenal is to hold a few model sessions in which you off them prints and/or digital files. 

With the proceeds from those sales, purchase a sample wall piece.  At your next session, offer that style of wall art, plus prints and/or digital files.

With the proceeds of those sales, purchase a sample album.  Now you’re cooking with gas!  You can offer wall art, albums, prints, and digital files to all of your sessions. 

Don't forget to check out my favorite things…I feel like Oprah!  

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8 Comments

  1. Candi

    Great article. I’ve been working on my packages and everyone has recommended Miller’s but I didn’t see it on your list. Also, I’m looking to order acrylic blocks, do you have any suggestions ?

    Reply
    • Nicole

      Miller’s is great! I just don’t use them. Their shipping is the fastest thing ever though! 🙂 They have good acrylic blocks and so does Bay Photo.

      Reply
  2. Erin

    I love this, I hate selling digitals. but what do you say when a potential client asks why you don’t offer digitals on their own. I know why, but what do you say to make them understand, and book anyway.

    Reply
    • Nicole

      I do offer them on their own, but at a MUCH higher price point. I often tell them, “digital files are available and the price drops substantially when purchased with a signature art product as I want to make sure you have gorgeous printed artwork to enjoy from day 1.”

      Reply
  3. Phil

    Nicole, do you recommend selling print packages ?

    Reply
    • Nicole

      Hi Phil, Print packages are a great addition to other products but I think it would be difficult to build a full business ONLY around print sales. Those, like digital files, are seen as a commodity by clients.

      Reply
  4. Amanda

    Great blog post, what’s your favorite product to add on?

    Reply
    • Nicole

      Your first product to offer? I would go with a wall piece or a small album. #2 would be whichever of those that you didn’t choose.

      Reply

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